Higher Education Quick Takes
The full-time faculty union at Southern Illinois University at Carbondale declared a strike shortly after midnight, citing the lack of progress in negotiations over a new contract with the administration. The union, affiliated with the National Education Association, cited numerous disagreement over such issues as salaries and furloughs. Union leaders said that they understood the tough economic times facing the state, and had proposed many compromises on various issues of contention. Several other campus unions have also been in negotiations with the administration about their contracts. Unions announced last night that graduate student assistants had reached a tentative agreement, but that as of early this morning, non-tenure-track faculty members have not reached any agreement over their contract. University officials have said that they hope to offer classes on schedule in the event of a strike.
Clatsop Community College, in Oregon, announced that 15 of the 39 full-time faculty members will lose their jobs after the spring term, The Daily Astorian reported. The college will lose about $1 million in state funds that it expected this year, and college leaders say the layoffs will save more than $300,000, closing the institution's deficit gap.
American Commercial College's campuses in Lubbock and Abilene called off classes Wednesday as federal agents raided facilities, gathering evidence in a probe of allegations that the for-profit Texas institution incorrectly reports student employment levels, changes grades and falsifies student eligibility forms, The Lubbock Avalanche-Journal reported. College officials at the campuses that suspended operations did not respond to calls, but the head of a campus in Odessa said that branch was operating normally. Students told KCBD News that they felt deceived by the college, and some questioned whether officials had taken more loan funds from them than was appropriate. The college did not respond to those allegations.
The Carnegie Corporation of New York today announced that it is making $500,000 grants to Freeman A. Hrabowski III, president of the University of Maryland Baltimore County, and Eduardo J. Padrón, president of Miami Dade College, as the latest in a series of awards to presidents for "fulfilling their administrative and managerial roles with dedication and creativity." The presidents can use the funds in any way to promote their academic initiatives. Hrabowski was honored for "his development of a culture of excellence and success in preparing students of all backgrounds to become Ph.D. scientists and engineers." Padrón was selected "for innovations that have contributed to a culture of success that has produced impressive results in student access, retention and graduation rates, and overall achievement at a school with a predominantly low-income and minority student population."
Lady Gaga on Wednesday announced that she is creating the Born This Way Foundation to focus on youth issues such as preventing bullying and promoting self-confidence in young people. While only a few details have been released, one key player in creating the foundation will be the Berkman Center for Internet & Society, at Harvard University. John Palfrey, faculty co-director of the center, released this statement: "It seems Hollywood launches foundations all the time, but I can't recall an artist of Lady Gaga's reach or caliber who has done the months of due-diligence and behind-the-scenes meetings with the experts before they've launched such a foundation."
The average student loan debt of the two-thirds of seniors who graduated from college with federal debt in 2010 rose to $25,250, up 5 percent from the previous year, according to a report released today by the Project on Student Debt. The nonprofit group's report shows the debt levels by state and singles out institutions whose students accumulated particularly large and small amounts of debt.
WASHINGTON -- An official with the U.S. Department of Labor Wednesday urged community college leaders to steer students to an online career tool the department created earlier this year. Speaking at a policy briefing hosted by Jobs for the Future, Gerri Fiala, the department's deputy assistant secretary of employment and training administration, said the site, dubbed "My Next Move," is particularly helpful for students as they explore potential careers. The briefing was on how nonprofit organizations, high schools and community colleges can help students who drop out of high school get back on track for college. Fiala and other federal policy makers who spoke at the event stressed the need for collaboration between two-year colleges and student employers.
The Wisconsin Assembly voted Wednesday to end consideration of race in a state grant program for disadvantaged students attending colleges in the state, The Capital Times reported. The program is for nontraditional students, with eligibility determined by such factors as having a disability, being a first-generation college student, or being black, Native American, Latino or Hmong. The program's authorization was amended in the Assembly to remove minority group membership as part of the criteria. While it is not clear that there is a speedy path for the bill to be enacted, the vote stunned and angered supporters of efforts to recruit more minority students.
University of Charleston President Ed Welch announced Wednesday that the university would be cutting tuition for next year's incoming freshman and transfer students by 22 percent, from $25,000 to $19,500. On top of that, the university is guaranteeing at least $5,500 in aid for all returning students, so that no student pays more than $19,500. In a video about the announcement, Welch said the change was made to get away from the high-tuition, high-aid model of financing education there. Several presidents in recent years have started questioning whether such a model is sustainable. The announcement comes on the heels of a similar move by the University of the South, which announced in February that it was cutting its $49,000 tuition about 10 percent for this fall.